Massive mauler mulls UT offer

Tennessee was so impressed with one prospect attending this week's Lane Kiffin football camp that it offered him a scholarship. If the prospect's mom is equally impressed with Tennessee, the Vols soon may get a commitment from an imposing offensive lineman.

Zach Fulton, a 6-5, 315-pounder from Flossmoor, Ill., exhibited remarkable agility, flexibility and footwork for his size during the lineman camp on Monday. Simply put, he was the most polished blocker on display.

Vol coaches liked what they saw enough to offer him a scholarship late Monday afternoon. As a result, Zach will be returning to Knoxville later this month – this time accompanied by his parents. If all goes well, there's a chance he'll commit.

"Zach will visit Tennessee again the 27th," said Glen Fulton, Zach's dad. "His mom wants to see the campus, so we're going to do the campus tour. Hopefully, she's comfortable with everything down there because we're very excited with Tennessee."

It sounds as if father and son are sold on UT, with Mom's approval all that's needed to seal the deal.

Certainly, Zach enjoyed his time in Knoxville, especially the interaction with Tennessee's high-energy coaches.

"I liked them," he said. "They have a lot of experience. Coach Kiffin, Coach (Jim) Chaney and some others have NFL backgrounds. That's a place I can go and help get me ready for the next level."

Also mulling offers from Illinois and Indiana, Zach is looking to choose a college before long. Asked about his timetable for committing, he replied: "I'm not sure ... but soon."

Although young Fulton is accorded three stars and ranked No. 41 among offensive tackle prospects by Scout.com, he certainly looked like an elite recruit on Monday. Once, when a defender over-extended himself in a one-on-one pass-rushing drill, Fulton gave him such a powerful shot with his hands that the defender went sprawling onto his back.

"Once Zach gets his hands on you, you're in trouble," Glen Fulton said of his son.

Still, the 315-pounder's power isn't as impressive as the agility and footwork he exhibits for a man his size.

"We wanted to work on his flexibility, so every couple of weeks I was sending him to work with a trainer," Glen Fulton said. "It's really helped his footwork and his mobility. He's more fluid now."

Zach has good quickness (5.3 in the 40) and good strength (375-pound bench press), plus excellent bloodlines. Older brother Xavier was a quality offensive lineman for the University of Illinois who was taken by the Tampa Bay Bucs in Round 5 of the recent NFL Draft. Asked if he learned his blocking skills from his sibling, Zach chuckled.

"No," he said. "Not really."

Wherever he learned his blocking skills, he did a bang-up job showcasing them at the UT camp earlier this week. And, in the process, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"The camp was great," he said by phone from Illinois. "The key was to get better, and I think I did. I got a chance to go against some of the best defensive linemen and compete, and also match up against some of the best offensive linemen."

Fulton matched up so well that he was one of three linemen tabbed to share the Offensive MVP Award on Monday. The others were heralded James Stone of Nashville and Marquis Pair of Sumter, S.C.

"I think I did pretty well but sometimes I think I could've done better," Fulton said. "The second part I did better. The offensive line coach (offensive coordinator Jim Chaney) said my footwork was really good. I only got beat maybe once during the afternoon session."

Fulton must've done something right during the morning session because Chaney pulled him from the film room between sessions and took him to head coach Lane Kiffin's office.

"Coach Kiffin told me that if I did well the second part of the camp, they were going to likely offer me," Fulton recalled. "I did well the second part, won Offensive MVP, then me, my uncle, Coach Orgeron and Coach Kiffin went to the office and talked. Coach Kiffin was telling how they could really use me, how he really liked my footwork and my performance in the drills. Then he said, 'Because of that, we're going to offer you a full ride.'"

Fulton's reaction?

"I was very excited," he said. "The main purpose I had in going to Tennessee's camp was to get an offer."

Mission accomplished. Now, pending his mother's approval, Zach Fulton may be on the verge of accepting that offer. If so, the Vols will be getting a massive young prospect who is light years ahead of most high schoolers in terms of pass protection.

"I like run blocking but pass blocking is the thing I do best," he said. "I didn't give up any sacks last year, and I had 30 pancake blocks."

As good as he is now, though, Zach Fulton has barely scratched his potential.

"The best is yet to come," Glen Fulton said of his son. "He's a piece of work that's getting more and more polished every day."


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